From Paris to Bucharest, from Madrid to Moscow, an often well-founded perception of corruption in high places is testing the patience of European societies and shaking up political life. Since early June, corruption-related controversies have brought down the mayor of Brussels, forced out Romania’s prime minister and sparked the resignations of four French government ministers scarcely a month after their appointments. It is at least five years since corruption scandals began to blow through Greece, Italy and Spain like gale-force winds, battering the electoral fortunes of established politicians and uprooting decades-old party systems. Yet nowhere in western Europe has the impact been as far-reaching as in France. Emmanuel Macron won the presidency in May, despite never having been elected to public office, partly because financial scandals destroyed the campaign of François Fillon, the former prime minister, when he was the centre-right frontrunner. Macron has swiftly changed the ...

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